When will schools reopen? Education leaders weigh options for summer, fall semesters

While the governor plans to slowly reopen Florida, school administrators are coming up with their plans to continue distance learning over the summer and what classroom environments could look like in the fall.

Spending time in classrooms in-person may not make a comeback, so school districts across Tampa Bay are preparing.

“We’re certainly trying to tailor it as much as possible, but that’s difficult when you have to offer it virtually,” said Genelle Zoratti Yost, the deputy superintendent of instruction at Manatee County Schools.
Zoratti Yost said they will set up live instruction virtually for third-grade students needing summer school, allow secondary students to finish up any credits and organize voluntary pre-K for online.
“We need to provide it. We don’t want our students to regress, and we need to provide something that will be a benefit,” said Zoratti Yost.
Colleges will also teach classes remotely this summer. At the University of South Florida, educators said they hope to bring everyone back this fall in phases.
“We may have to adjust how our classroom spaces are utilized.  So, for instance, we may have to limit the number of persons in any one given space at any one given time,” said Donna Petersen, the senior associate vice president at USF Health.

Saint Leo University also plans to be flexible and adjust the governor’s reopening plan.

“We’re going to lag a little bit behind his decisions because I want to see what happened,” said Jeffrey Senese, Saint Leo University’s president.

The college is even weighing a hybrid approach.

“Part of the fall could be online when they’re on residence on campus, and then the second half will bring them back into the classrooms. That’s one option,” said Senese.

And no matter the level, educators across the board said they hope for one thing.

“It is our goal to be back in some way shape or form in the fall, just what that will look like right is unsure,” said Petersen.

Educators said they will follow the guidance of the Department of Education, the governor, and what health officials say.

They said they just have to work on several options and watch how the virus develops.